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Maritime and Coastguard Agency

Volume 456: debated on Wednesday 31 January 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what steps the Maritime and Coastguard Agency takes to ensure that foreign seafarers serving on UK ships understand the working language on board their vessel. (117628)

The standard of English language is assessed by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency in one of the following ways.

If the MCA is satisfied that the training leading to the officer’s original Certificate of Competency satisfactorily assessed written and oral English language ability, no further testing is required.

If this is not the case, then there are a number of ways evidence of English language ability may be provided:

i. confirmation of proficiency by an MCA Marine Surveyor on board or in a MCA Marine Office; or

ii. successfully passing the International Shipping Federation Marlin’s English Language Test at an approved centre together with the Marlin’s Test of Spoken English or a letter of confirmation from the company attesting to the standard of spoken English; or

iii. satisfying the MCA that English is the applicant’s mother tongue; or

iv. holding an advanced English Language Certificate from the British Council or International Language Testing System test report showing an overall band of at least 6; or

v. holding a test of English as a foreign language as applicable for entrance to US universities; or

vi. holding a Berlitz Language School level 2+ certificate endorsed by the shipping company; or

vii. passing an MCA English language test administered for the MCA by the Scottish Qualification Authority; or

viii. company based assessment in accordance with criteria specified in Marine Guidance Note 221 (M). This can be found at:

Seafarers have to demonstrate to the MCA compliance with one of the above methods of proving ability in English language before a certificate of equivalent competency is issued.